‘Top Dog’ Gambler Played with CA$1.1 million at River Rock, Mostly $20 Bills
Posted on: November 5, 2020, 04:08h.
Last updated on: November 5, 2020, 04:40h.
A “top dog” gambler with connections to an underground bank that allegedly laundered money for drug cartels was able to gamble with CA$1.1 million ($840k) in low denomination banknotes at a British Columbia casino.
The Cullen Commission, which is examining the historical problem of casino money laundering in the province, heard Wednesday about one instance of suspicious activity. CA$800k ($611k) of high roller Jia Gui Gao’s eye-watering buy-in at the River Rock in Richmond, Metro Vancouver had allegedly been paid for in $20 bills.
According to Daryl Tottenham, manager of the BC Lottery Corp’s anti-money laundering division, Gao is an associate of suspected money-launderer Paul King Jin. On a separate occasion in October 2014, Jin supplied Gao with $300K during a clandestine meeting in the River Rock parking lot.
Jin was the original target of RCMP investigation Operation E-Pirate, who led detectives to Silver International, an underground bank that allegedly laundered hundreds of millions through BC casinos.
In October 2015, investigators observed Jin traveling between Silver’s offices and various locations with “suitcases, boxes, and bags containing large amounts of cash.”
Silver would accept cash from drug cartels and other criminal gangs, who were repaid via equivalent transactions into a network of Chinese bank accounts. The dirty cash would then be lent to Chinese high rollers, allowing them to swerve the strict limit on the movement of money out of China, before being cleaned through the province’s casino sector.
This came to be known by the global intelligence community as “the Vancouver Model,” such was its prevalence in the city.
Silver’s operators were Jian Jun Zhu and his wife, Caixuan Qin, who were prosecuted in 2018. It was the biggest money laundering case in Canada’s history until it fell apart when prosecutors accidentally revealed the name of a key police informant, putting him at risk of death.
In September this year, Jin and Zhu were eating together at the Manzo Itamae Japanese restaurant in Richmond when they were sprayed with bullets by an unknown attacker. Zhu was killed. Jin was shot in the face but survived.
Big Circle Boys
Tottenham told the inquiry that Jin’s boss was a convicted drugs trafficker named Kwok Chung Tam, the alleged kingpin of the notorious Chinese crime group, the Big Circle Boys.
Tam was arrested for heroin trafficking in 2000. But charges were eventually dropped because a judge found the wiretap evidence in the case inadmissible. Tam was also subject to deportation proceedings, which were stayed. His current whereabouts are unknown.
Prosecutors are in the process of building a case against Jin, who has recovered from the botched hit, and are considering whether to charge him with a crime. In the meantime, he and his family have been the subject of various legal proceedings launched by BC’s Civil Forfeiture Office.